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Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty pair eyes 2022 en core in French Open

Former champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be hoping to be fourth time lucky after three successive runner-up finishes when they begin their campaign at the USD 850,000 French Open Super 750 badminton tournament starting on Tuesday.

India's Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in action.(PTI)
India’s Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in action.(PTI)

The world No. 1 Indian pair faltered at the finishing line thrice to sign off as second best at 2023 China Masters Super 750 in November, Malaysia Open Super 1000 and India Open Super 750 events in January and will start as title favourites this week.

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It will also be an opportunity for the top Indian shuttlers to look to get a feel of the conditions at the Adidas arena at Porte de la Chapelle which is set to be the venue for the Paris Olympics.

The top seeded Indians, who won the French Open in 2022, have been the epitome of consistency in men’s doubles, which is considered to be highly competitive and are likely to make the weekends once again after opening their campaign against Malaysian combination of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.

“I feel losing sometimes it is better than winning all the time. When it really matters it will come. We just need to hang in there,” Satwik had said after the India Open.

“We played three finals, we lost three, it was very close in those matches. We could’ve kept calm in crucial situations.”

The event holds extra significance for two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu, who made a return to the circuit after four months at the Asia Team Championships in Malaysia.

While not all the super stars competed in Shah Alam last month, the French Open will see them back in action and it will be a big test for Sindhu, who lost one and won twice at the continental tournament.

The world No. 11 Indian will open her campaign against Canada’s Michelle Li and a win is likely to put her across three-time former world champion and nemesis Carolina Marin of Spain, their first meeting since that ill-tempered match between the two in the Denmark Open semi-final.

In men’s singles, world No. 7 HS Prannoy made a decent start to the new season, reaching the semifinal of the India Open and though he lost twice in February at BATC, the 30-year-old will look to step up his game when he begins against China’s Lu Guang Zu.

In the Paris Olympic race, Lakshya Sen, who has slipped to world No 19, will also have his task cut out when he takes on Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama in the opening match.

Former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth too will face a tough customer in Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen in his opener, while for a young Priyanshu Rajawat it will be an opportunity to create the biggest upset when he faces world No.1 Viktor Axelsen. Srikanth is currently ranked 24th in the world.

In a crucial turn of fate, two Indian women pairs — Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, and Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa — who are fighting for a berth in the Olympics, will face off in the opening round.

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